Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes are returning their “Yellow Angel” prizes to the ADAC and the president of the German automobile club is stepping down because of last month’s award scandal.
Last month, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung discovered that the results of the “Gelber Engel” award were manipulated by artificially increasing the number of voters, in order to add credibility to the award. For example: the number of votes for the winning Volkswagen Golf was increased tenfold.
Research by consulting firm Deloitte shows that there has been “deliberate manipulation ” and that the data processing was flawed. It became apparent that not only the number of votes was manipulated, but also the order of the results. The Golf would still have been the winner, but while the BMW 3-Series would officially have taken second place, but it wasn’t even in the top 5 of the results published by the ADAC. The Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class were each moved up one spot into second and third position respectively. Deloitte is now investigating whether a similar fraud has been committed with the award surveys from 2005 through 2013.
Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW have had enough of all the publicity and have decided to return their award to the ADAC, including those from previous years. The automakers claim that the ADAC and the award have lost their credibility.
ADAC president steps down
Immediately after the award fraud became public last month, Michael Ramstetter, the PR manager who was responsible for the award stepped down. This week, the President of the ADAC Peter Meyer resigned as well. Not only because of the award manipulation, but also because of allegations about private use of property of the German Automobile Club and because ADAC board members used emergency helicopters for private matters. And on top of that, there were media reports about irregularities in a tire test conducted by the ADAC in cooperation with the Stiftung Warentest, the German consumer organization.
The ADAC is contemplating to proceed with legal action against Ramstetter, as he was the one who conducted the manipulation of the votes personally. Now that the can of worms has been opened and the Automobile Club is under heavy scrutiny, I wonder which other misconduct and irregularities will be found in the coming weeks.